Senate bid hits snags

BAR HARBOR — A Bar Harbor resident hoping to unseat Sen. Angus King in the U.S. Senate could be disqualified. An opponent is accusing him of collecting fraudulent signatures on his ballot-access petitions.

Max Linn, a financial planner, forced a Republican primary for the chance to challenge King’s seat with state Sen. Eric Brakey, of Auburn, by submitting more than the 2,000 required signatures to Secretary of State Matthew Dunlap last month.

Days later, Brakey’s political director David Boyer filed the challenge with Dunlap’s office hoping to nullify multiple pages of Linn’s signatures.

A hearing on the challenge was held March 29 in Dunlap’s office. Dunlap must file a determination on the challenge by April 5.

Steve Juskewitch, an Ellsworth attorney representing Linn in the challenge, said Linn submitted more than 2,400 signatures, but town clerks threw out around 150 of them, leaving 2,248 signatures.

Hancock County District Attorney Matthew Foster’s name appears on Linn’s petition, but he said during the challenge hearing that he did not sign it.

Forensic document analyst Tiffany Ford, retained by the Brakey campaign for the hearing, analyzed about 100 signatures during the hearing. Ford said some of the signatures were unnatural, which could hint of forgery, according to Boyer.

“You can tell the same person wrote in the date, town and printed name,” Boyer told the Islander Monday. “The whole sheet is pretty suspect when the whole thing is like that.”

If 100 signatures are thrown out, Linn still would have more than the required number of signatures. But if there is evidence of fraud, the Brakey campaign is asking for whole sheets to be thrown out. Boyer said Ford flagged 20-30 pages of petitions, but he did not know exactly how many signatures could be fraudulent.

“The fraud doesn’t end at the four corners of the page,” Boyer said.

Linn supporter Brad Littlefield leveled a retaliatory complaint against an unnamed Brakey staffer who notarized signatures, alleging he was convicted of rape in the 1990s. The complaint was withdrawn before the meeting.

According to Journal Tribune reports from 1980, Littlefield, a Sanford city councilor at the time, fraudulently submitted surveys in hopes to influence a change in the city’s charter.

Linn has participated in politics before, running as a third-party gubernatorial candidate in Florida in 2006. Last year, he hosted a Republican potluck and watch party for Donald Trump’s inauguration at a building he owns on Pleasant Street in Bar Harbor. He also runs a website called “Donald Trump Patriots” and aligns with the president on many issues. He wrote a book praising former Democratic President Barack Obama in 2008.

At a press conference in Augusta on Monday, he said he believed the Brakey campaign was behind the fraudulent signatures.

“In my opinion, cowardly Eric Brakey’s campaign sabotaged my campaign by putting names of dead people on my petitions and also forging other names knowing this would undermine my campaign,” he said. “As an established career politician, cowardly Eric Brakey knew the negative press that would be brought upon my campaign.”

A reporter at the press conference asked Linn if he had evidence to support his accusation, but he declined to answer.

Linn also challenged Brakey to what he called the “Be a Man NRA $25,000 Debate Challenge.” Linn announced the challenge while holding a ceremonial check made out to the National Rifle Association, to be donated if Brakey completes the challenge.

“We are challenging him to 16 debates within all 16 counties between now and June 1,” Linn said.

Linn also guaranteed that Dunlap would approve his signatures; then he would beat Brakey and beat King for his Senate seat.

“I stand here today knowing that Secretary Dunlap is going to approve my signatures,” Linn said. “I believe this was the most thorough inspection of petitions and signatures in Maine’s history.”

Linn did not respond to a request for comment.

Samuel Shepherd

Samuel Shepherd

Samuel Shepherd is a University of Maine graduate and a former Bar Harbor reporter for the Mount Desert Islander.
Samuel Shepherd

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